Colin Clarke

Bach: Variations on Variations

8:00, 22nd January 2018

Concerto Italiano. Rinaldo Alessandrini (harpsichord)
NAÏVE OP 30575 68 mins

This is a fascinating mix of arrangements for instrumental ensemble of works originally for various keyboards, described by Alessandrini himself as ‘a divertissement, a subtle intellectual pleasure.’ Thus, the Passacaglia, BWV5892, originally (probably) for pedal harpsichord, is here weighted, lachrymose and heard in an impassioned yet stylish account (contrast, for example, with Respighi’s weighty orchestration of this work). Concentrating the scoring down, the Aria variata alla maniera italiana, BW989 is presented for violin and basso continuo instead of on harpsichord in a fabulously lilting performance; a pity the church acoustic occasionally muddies the texture.

Of course, the Goldbergs have famously been arranged for string trio by Sitkovetsky, an arrangement that works superbly. So does Alessandrini’s version, which starts on harpsichord for the first statement of the theme before the balance of (stringed) instruments is introduced. Listen to the astonishing scoring of Variation 28 to hear just what a mind is at work here. Stimulating fare

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